As I was working away, pulling some of the 40 trillion Washington hawthorn seedlings and encroaching grass from the garden beds, I noticed a familiar butterfly fluttering nearby. It was the first that I'd seen an American Lady this year and she gave me a treat as lovely as the day.
|Antennaria rosea has silvery-blue foliage that's a little fuzzy.|
Each year, our pussytoes groundcover (Antennaria rosea) is host to a large number of caterpillars. I first noticed them several years ago, because they were so numerous. I took a photo and went inside to see if I could identify which butterfly or moth they belonged to. Turns out that Antennaria spp. are just what both the Painted Lady and the American Lady like for raising their young.
|American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar on Antennaria rosea in June 2010|
Until today, I wasn't quite sure which one it was that was munching on our pussytoes. It can be difficult to tell the adults apart, but I'd never seen either one near the plants - only the caterpillars. (The Painted Lady has five eye spots on the back side of its lower wings, while the American Lady has just two larger ones.)
|The two large eye spots on the lower wing identify this as an American Lady butterfly.|
There were at least two adult butterflies crawling all over the pussytoes today and I was able to get photos that were good enough to make a positive ID. I even got a photo of one of them depositing an egg. Soon, we'll be seeing baby American Ladies crawling among the leaves, eating to their hearts' content.
|This American Lady butterfly is depositing an egg on the underneath side of a leaf.|
|Two American Lady butterfly eggs can be seen here. It's interesting that she laid both of them |
right in the crease of the leaf. Sometimes they will deposit the egg on the underneath side.
Are there any butterflies that choose to raise their young in your gardens because you are raising the right plants to host them?